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Monday, February 9, 2009

Woodstock lawmaker hates edumacation

It's difficult to imagine a person less suited to making important public policy decisions than state Rep. Charlice Byrd, R-Woodstock.

This is because Byrd, a former elementary school teacher, is 1. a poorly informed reactionary, 2. an ultra-partisan ideologue, and 3. a complete idiot.

I feel I can say all this with authority after watching her new YouTube diatribe, in which she duplicates a speech she delivered from the House well on Friday.

Like the Gilda Radner SNL character Roseanne Roseannadanna – only much, much sadder – Byrd has no idea what she's talking about. She's outraged that Georgia's public universities offer "special-interest classes" on such topics as "male prostitution, queer theory and oral sex."

Except that they don't.

Where did Byrd get such an idea? Well, a week or so ago, fellow Rep. Calvin Hill, R-Canton, got hold of a GSU "experts guide" – a standard university marketing publication sent to newspapers and TV stations as a tool to promote faculty members as potential sources for upcoming articles and story segments on a range of possible subjects.

Having referred to various experts guides over the years, I can say there are always some pretty specialized areas of expertise listed. A few years back, I tapped Jacqueline Boles, a GSU sociologist, for an article about Atlanta call girls. Dr. Boles had published scholarly papers on prostitution and was considered one of the nation's top academic experts on the oldest profession. She even served as an adviser to the Atlanta Police Department's vice squad, helping police understand how hookers operate.

But just because a professor of zoology claims to be an expert on, say, the mating calls of Alaskan waterfowl doesn't mean he teaches an entire course on the topic. Hill didn't realize this and went off half-cocked about how GSU is spending taxpayer money teaching smutty classes (because we wouldn't want college kids learning how to perform oral sex!) – until an AJC story set him straight.

So now comes Byrd, a week later, advocating that the state get rid of "professors and staff who are paid to provide such services in these 'so-called' (air quotes hers) special-interest areas."

How about we instead get rid of state lawmakers who – by design or sheer stupidity – persist in creating and spreading misinformation about problems that don't actually exist?

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